SBD/May 18, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Is The Lack Of Sponsorship For IndyCar Drivers Hurting Appeal Of The Sport?

Tony Kanaan signed with Geico just before the start of the IndyCar season
The Izod IndyCar Series “never will be as relevant as it needs to be when so many of the world's top drivers are being sidelined by lack of sponsorship,” according to Bob Kravitz of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Drivers Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon and Paul Tracy leading up to the start of the season were off the grid "because of a lack of sponsorship,” though Kanaan has since signed a full-season sponsorship with Geico. But Kravitz wrote, “How does IndyCar reach and maintain mainstream viability when some of its best and most popular drivers aren't competing in events not named the Indianapolis 500?” IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said, "One of my concerns is when you see someone like Milka Duno buy a ride, and then see a Wheldon or a [Buddy] Rice on the sidelines, that doesn't help the credibility and perception of the sport. If fans are going to pay their hard-earned money to watch a race, they want to know they're watching the best.” Kravitz wrote 14 months into Bernard's tenure, IndyCar “remains a niche sport with a lousy TV package and a dearth of nationally known stars.” Bernard: "This isn't going to be a welfare program to bring drivers who we think have a great presence who can help us. So in the end, we've just got to put more value into the series, get better TV exposure and create bigger stars." Kravitz wrote, “All Bernard and the series can do is the legwork, improve the TV contract, come up with creative ideas to make the races, and the series, more compelling.” Bernard: "We're coming back. But it's going to take time” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/17).

SPONSOR FOR TUNG: Texas-based Mouser Electronics will sponsor driver Ho-Pin Tung in his attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. Tung, who will drive the No. 8 entry for Schmidt Dragon Racing, will try to become the first Chinese-born driver in the race. Mouser's parent company TTI, Inc. will co-sponsor Tung (Mouser).
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